SAR: how a small incident response works

I have a character who is going to join a SAR (Search and Rescue) group in Southern British Columbia as a ground searcher. 

I've looked at the description of every SAR group as they're listed online ( and I've read through the description of every SAR course I could get my hands in to know what SAR members are expected to be able to do.

I know the different types of teams (avalanche rescue, swift water, rope, tracking, etc) and the material they need. I know how SAR dog training works, the main commands and some myths vs reality. I've read media accounts of a number of rescues. I'm aware of the dangers — in terms of injuries and death — and of difficulties (as presented in the media), including failures in planning or security measures (it's hard to say a SAR member got hurt because of bad decisions, but as heroic as these people are, they're human, and humans are known to make mistakes every now and then).

My google technique rests on the string 'SAR group name' (limited to the southern BC area) and then reading all the pages that come up — from coroner enquiries (yes, there are a couple online) to news and course offers.

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Military in the field - ID issues

This is a fantasy story set in a secondary world. The army in question is vaguely reminiscent of the Napoleonic army, but the country it belongs to is definitely and defiantly a republic (so - no nobles pulling rank).
What I'm looking for here is less historical information (though that's more than welcomed, too!) and more of "common sense" advice from anyone who's familiar with any sort of military. What would a seasoned soldier consider a reasonable course of action?

Here's the situation.

It's peacetime, but a war is expected to break out any day. Everyone's on edge.
A general gets attacked by unknown assassins while travelling from point A to point B in the republic's peaceful backwater. Point A is a military outpost he's just visited with a surprise inspection, point B is a small outpost he was going to pass by without stopping, so nobody here and now really knows he's in the area. Nevertheless, he gets ambushed right outside Point B.
He's travelling without retinue, accompanied only by three adjutants (because it's peacetime and they're in a hurry, because it was a surprise inspection, because nobody knows their itinerary anyway, and because, if worst comes to worst, the general is an authority-equals-asskicking level of magician who doesn't usually need bodyguards).
Still, that's a really good ambush designed for this specific general. Two of the adjutants get killed right away, and the general is partially incapacitated, but he and the remaining adjutant put up a fight. In the process they realize, through a bunch of clues, that the attackers very likely belong to their own army or at least trained with it.

Meanwhile at Point B, Lieutenant S notices the commotion, takes a squad and goes to investigate. The attackers make a half-hearted attempt to fight him, too, then flee - and S also recognizes them as most likely his own.

Now. We have Lieutenant S with a squad, in the middle of nowhere but not far from Point B they're supposed to be protecting. A war is looming. They've just been attacked by strangers who fought like they were their fellow soldiers (though out of uniform), and now they face four more strangers, IN uniforms (two dead and one wounded) who are all oddly high-ranking but have no escort. To top it off, the general looks about thirty years younger than he should (because magic, but S doesn't know it's possible), and isn't supposed to be in the area. He's also lightly injured plus appears to be having something like a heart attack (consequences of magic S isn't familiar with, so he can't tell how real it is). The surviving adjutant is demanding to be let into Point B for medical help (for the general) asap.

Yeah, I didn't realize just how suspicious the whole thing looks from S's point of view when I was plotting it.
So then, questions.

Question 1: Does it make sense for Lieutenant S to let them into Point B, or should he start demanding proof of the general's identity? Also, can he even do that?
I googled what seems like every variation of "can a lieutenant ask for a general's ID" and "how do officers prove their identity", but Google seems to think I'm asking about police pulling drivers over. "Military etiquette" produced a guide for rendering salute, but that's not quite it either.

Question 2: Supposing S does want proof of the general's identity. Considering that photo ID doesn't exist in this world (and ignoring magic for a second), would further proof of identity be even possible, apart from finding someone who knows the general by sight? Frantic googling yielded something called "dog tags", which apparently have been in use since Spartans. But the general is already wearing a rather hard-to-obtain uniform. Would having a metallic disk with his name on it be any more convincing?

Thanks in advance and I appreciate any suggestions!

American Folk Rituals/Folk Beliefs in the 19th century

Writing a story set in America in the 1870s and I need some examples of folk rituals/folk beliefs for cures of spiritual/supernatural ailments. I have vague recollections of things like leaving a silver coin in the hollow of an old tree from Mark Twain's works, but my cursory research (Googling using "folk rituals" "folk beliefs" "cure for curses") has mostly brought up either Wiccan beliefs or general articles about folklore. I'm hoping that the collective knowledge of this comm can help me find more concrete examples of actual practices and rituals. Given the melting pot nature of the United States, I'd happily accept folk rituals from any Western European country, but preferably UK or Germany.

ETA: Per mod note, I'm providing some additional information. The setting is the New Mexico/Arizona territory, but the characters who would be providing examples of folk beliefs are a 2nd generation Irish immigrant from New York City and a vagabond cowboy who was raised in a brothel in Kansas. Since this is primarily flavor text (the characters are trying to break a curse and are spit-balling ideas) I think I have enough wiggle room to work in any ritual or belief that might be brought up.

Suitable harmonica for playing classical Chinese pentatonic music?

(Disclaimer: I'm posting here because who knows--it might yield helpful research data for someone; what I'm seeking, however, is personal advice. Also, I'll readily admit my absolute ignorance of both the implicit subjects.)

Common agreement seems to be that Baby's First Harmonica is the Hohner Blues Band in the key of C: simple, readily available, and low sunk cost. If I can muster the focus to persevere beyond the 101 point, what sort of harmonica (ideally <~$50 USD) might lend itself to the scales characteristic of Chinese traditional music (or modern Cpop songs drawing thereupon?)

Why? Reasons.
  • Current Mood: quixotic

Poem, written pre-1810, about marriage of convenience or without love (to start with)

Hello all,

I'm still madly working on the Case of the Crossdressing Earl, but the edits are finally coming through. I keep finding places, though, where I put a note to look something up later, and I haven't always found what I need.

Right now I need a poem. It can be in English or another European language that has been translated to English, and this must be before 1810 (as my characters must know it). It can be incredibly famous, or rather obscure, but suitable that a young lady would have read it.

The important part is the substance. There must be a marriage in the poem between two people who are only marrying for convenience. It can be for title, or money, or to fulfill an ancient prophecy, or to save a friend, but it cannot be for love. Neither party can love each other at the start of the story, or even by the time they are married. Bonus points though if the couple fall in love throughout the poem, and especially if they end up living happily ever after. Note — I'd prefer to skip poems about rape like the Wife of Bath's Tale, although dammit, it would have been perfect except for that bit.

Research done: Reading a LOT of Restoration, Renaissance and Medieval poetry, scouring themes for Marriage of Convenience — I even checked in TV Tropes, (and got out alive)

Medieval (12th century) outbreak of mystery disease (malaria ?)

Already searched : “medieval illness/disease”, “medieval  epidemics”, “epidemics”, etc + the various diseases that presented  themselves during those searches but without much success for my  specific set of requirements. So I turn to you lovely people for help  ...  

Setting : Medieval (late 12th century) - Middle east (present day Lebanon) in a big city along the coast

Hello everybody,

I need a disease which can hit my medieval middle eastern city and kill a portion of its inhabitants.

Here my various criterias :

The  outbreaks starts in mid/late June, peaks in July and August and is  mostly gone by the end of August with a few people still dying in early  September.  

I don't want to wipe them out. I just need something which would cause a significant number of person to die but leave enough people alive so that society doesn't crumble  (let say a third/half the population gets it and about half / two  thirds of the sick people die but I'm really not fussy with number,  basically enough to be noticeable and worrying enough for people to  leave the city and be scared of catching it but something from which  they rebound easily enough without much consequences beside the loss of  family members/friends.)

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Nickname in Arabic

This is a question for a modern novel with a Syrian-British character who works in a mostly-English-speaking environment. His name is Qasim (قاسم‎) and given that most nicknames are shortened versions of the full name, his colleagues call him Qas.

I know that قاس has various other meanings in Arabic, but I wasn't sure if it would be considered impolite to someone to use it as a nickname, especially when the people using it don't speak Arabic. Would it be normal for an Arabic name to be shortened like that? Or would it be considered rude?

I know this is a bit of a vague question, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.